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7 Skiing Myths Debunked

Hold onto your helmets—it’s time to talk ski myths. From technique to etiquette, ski slopes are filled with mountain-sized lists of do’s and don’ts and shoulda-woulda-couldas. 

Viewed through the ski school scripture, rules ought to be followed with a certain kind of rigorous religiosity. Yet viewed through the laissez-faire lens, there’s also a school of thought where the ski mountain is just a big ol’ playground where people can get out there, figure out what works for them, and just make it down in one piece. Whatever your worldview, this much is clear—you’re probably doing something wrong… at least according to someone.

But fear not! Here are some low-hanging universal myths that we think everyone can get on-plank with.

Your boots should hurt

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Gone are the days of cramped metatarsals and in-grown toenails. Photo by Ethan Walsweer

There was a time when ski boots lived by the “no pain, no gain” mantra. Thankfully for metatarsals and in-grown toenails everywhere, those days are gone. Ski boot technology today is like something out of a Sci-fi movie. Now, you can have 3D imaging to produce a model of your foot that can be shaped into your boot. Improvements have been made in materials and shell shape to create a more anatomical fit and better out of the box fit. There have been major advancements in walk mode, with grip soles making your après-moseying far less uncomfortable. 

But perhaps biggest of all, there’s now a growing acknowledgment that every skier—not just the elite—can now turn to the help of a professional boot fitter to find the perfect pair of tailored-to-you boots. After all, boots are the transmitters of body movement to the ski. AKA, the whole act of skiing begins with the boot. Proper support and comfort make all the difference between a good day on the mountain or a bad.

You’re gonna get injured 

Listen, ski injuries happen. They’re scary and can be serious. People get hurt everyday on the slopes, and it seems like pretty much every grizzled liftie has at least one ruptured ACL under their bib. But there’s also the whole “Great White Shark” phenomenon to consider. Yes, there are about 600,000 skiing or snowboarding injuries each year… but there are also about 18-26 MILLION(!!) people who hit the slopes annually. The chances of getting hurt—while higher than, say, gardening—are actually pretty low. Like about 2% kind of low. Obviously risk is an inherent trait of the sport. But is it full-on risky? We’d argue if you engage in safe-skiing practices—like wearing a helmet, skiing within your means, and keeping a vigilant eye on other skiers—then it can be a very safe sport.

Everyone loves your bluetooth speaker 

A group of skiers wearing helmets at a resort
To bluetooth or not to bluetooth, that is the question. Photo by Greg Rosenke

Newsflash, not everyone loves heavy death metal while waiting in the lift line. The reality is that music on the slopes is a fairly divisive topic in the skiing community. Many seek mountain tranquility and consider blaring speakers as a disturbance, both in terms of ambiance and safety. Loud music can also mask vital auditory cues, leading to potential mishaps. And most old-school skiers would opt for the serene sounds of snowy silence over the latest T Swift album any day.

Of course, there are certainly those who feel that music enhances their skiing experience, adding rhythm to the runs. In group settings, especially during relaxed ski days or après-ski gatherings, music can definitely foster a spirited atmosphere. But if you're thinking of going the speaker route, always be considerate, be prepared to adjust the volume, and remember: not everyone on the slope may share your musical enthusiasm.

Ski lessons from your S.O. are a good idea

The fastest way to end a relationship? Going 25 mph down a ski slope when the only thing your partner taught you was “pizza-french fries.” More seriously, there are some beginner-intermediate skiers who think they can save some cash by skimping out on a ski school lesson in favor of DIY lessons from an S.O. To keep the acronym train chugging, that’s not gonna yield a very big ROI. In fact, there’s a common saying in many ski schools: “Friends don’t let friends teach friends.” So, if you want to stay together, maybe don’t ski together… at least until you’re on the same ability level!

Big terrain is everything

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Bombing down Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Photo by Max Kramer

FOMO is one of the most erosive emotions there is—especially on the slopes. If you’ve ever felt inadequate for skiing blues while all your friends are bombing blacks, this one’s for you: comparison angst on the slopes is a recipe for disaster. Big terrain doesn’t mean your big shot. You don’t have to ride moguls or whip through trees at the speed of Vonn in order to have a good time. In other words, you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone, especially yourself. The sooner you can come to terms with your own ability level, the better off you’ll be, and the more fun you’ll have—and ironically, the sooner your ability level will improve.

Lean back when skiing powder

Leaning excessively back in powder, while instinctive to keep ski tips afloat, poses several issues. It can lead to rapid muscle fatigue, especially in the calves and hamstrings. This backward posture reduces skier control, making turns and navigation trickier and elevating the risk of catching a ski tail and tumbling. Additionally, a consistent backseat stance strains the knees, potentially increasing injury risk over time. Modern powder skis, designed with rocker profiles and wider waists, facilitate a more centered stance, allowing skiers to relish the smooth, surf-like sensation of powder skiing without the need to lean back.

You can just figure it out at the top

Everyone has that friend who will push them to do something outside their comfort zone. To be fair, in many realms of life, this can be a good quality to have. But not on a ski mountain. If you’re a beginner skier or firmly in the intermediate zone and someone tells you “to just go to the very top and figure out a way down”—don’t listen to them. While well-intentioned, there’s probably no line more uninspiring and confidence-draining than: “You got this.” Especially as you stare down the barrel of an icy, near-vertical, death chute with howling, whistling winds ripping through your “insulated” jacket and sideways snow destroying any chance of visibility. It’s in that precise moment when you realize “just figuring it out at the top” might not be the best advice.

In the end, everyone’s gonna ski how they’re gonna ski. There are good habits and bad, major myths and minor ones. The important thing to remember is… “You got this.”

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